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Why is it Dangerous?

The human body cannot detect the difference between dangerous lead and calcium (a mineral that strengthens bones). Like calcium, lead remains in the bloodstream for a few weeks. Then it is absorbed into the bones, where it can collect over a lifetime.

The harmful effects of lead poisoning are permanent. Children under the age of six, are at particular risk of lead poisoning because they frequently place their hands, toys, and other objects that could have dust from lead-based paint, in their mouths.

Early signs/symptoms of lead poisoning in children

Lead poisoning is not easy to detect. Sometimes no symptoms occur, or if they do, they mimic symptoms of more common illnesses. Symptoms associated with lead poisoning in children include:

  • Persistent tiredness or hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced attention span
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Constipation

Serious/permanent health effects related to elevated blood lead levels

  • Damage to the brain & nervous system
  • Behavior & learning problems, such as hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Headaches
  • In rare cases, children can suffer seizures, coma, and even death (from acute lead poisoning from ingestion of lead)

A blood test is the only way to tell if a child has been poisoned by lead. Usually, a “finger poke” is all that is needed to initially test for lead poisoning. If blood level results are high, however, an additional blood draw may be taken to confirm results.